Saturday’s fatal crash at the Vectren Dayton Air Show is the second in the show’s 40-year history.
The crash Saturday was the first in the U.S. in 2013, a year when many air shows were cancelled because of the federal budget cuts. But it followed a deadly year for crashes in 2011 and 2012.
The previous fatal crash at the Dayton air show occurred in 2007. Aerobatic pilot Jim LeRoy died in a crash in which he was later found to be at fault. LeRoy failed to maintain clearance from the ground during an acrobatics routine and crashed his 400-horsepower, single-seat biplane, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
The safety board found that “smoke oil” present in the air where the performers were flying also contributed to the crash.
LeRoy’s yellow Bulldog Pitts continued from a spiral spin into the ground, slid 300 feet and burst into flames shortly after 2:30 p.m. LeRoy was part of a two-plane aerobatics team known as Codename: Mary’s Lamb.
“He pulled up too late and the plane pancaked into the ground. It looked like the fellow just tried to pull out too late,” John Dickerson, an amateur pilot from Lebanon, said in 2007.
LeRoy, 46, of Lake City, Fla., was killed immediately by the 200-mph crash impact.
Stephanie Owens of Kettering watched from the Dayton Daily News observation area as trucks arrived and put out the flames with foam, then pulled out and evacuated LeRoy by Black Hawk helicopter to Miami Valley Hospital.
“Time stood still,” Owens said after the crash.
The announcer identified himself as a former pastor and led the crowd in a prayer. Parents were asked to have their children turn away.
Dr. Jim Brown, resident director of the Wright State University School of Medicine at the time, accompanied two army medics on the Black Hawk. LeRoy was pronounced dead before the helicopter touched down on top of the hospital.
LeRoy’s death was announced at a 4 p.m. press conference and the final performance of the day, by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, was canceled. The crowd was sent home.
At the time, Clair Potter, a former Dayton Air Show official, and Timothy R. Gaffney, former aviation reporter for the Dayton Daily News, both said they could not recall any prior fatal plane crash in the history of the show, which began in 1975 as the Dayton Air Fair.
Gaffney also said he could not recall any crashes during past shows that could have rendered a plane unflyable.
In LeRoy’s crash, contributing factors listed by the NTSB included the “pilot’s restricted ability to see the terrain” and “smoke oil” – commonly distributed by aerobatic performers as a special effect - present in the air where the performers were flying.
Like this year’s crash, the 2007 accident occurred on a Saturday, cancelling the remainder of the events that day. But the show returned on Sunday to big crowds, with the Thunderbirds again closing out the show.
Here are details on some crashes at air shows around the world in the past two years.
May 19: An experienced Turkish aerobatic pilot, Murat Öztürk, was killed in a final maneuver during an air show held as part of celebration of a national holiday in Turkey.
On May 5: A Spanish pilot, Ladislao Tejedor Romero, flying a historic jet died after crashing into a hangar building during an air show in Madrid.
On April 7: Two Dominican Air Force pilots, Lt. Rafael Sanchez and Lt. Carlos Manuel Guerrero, died after crashed a training plane into the sea during The Carribean Air Show 2013 an air show in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
March 17: Pilot Roger Stokes died after flying a home-built replica of the Supermarine Spitfire into a fence while performing in the Classic Jets Original Parafield Airshow in South Australia.
January 23: Aerobatic champion Kirby Chambliss escaped with minor injuries when the engine of his plane quit and crashed at end of the runway during the Ilopango Air Show in El Salvador.
Sept. 29: Two Indonesian pilots, Nurman Lubis and Tonny Haryono, were killed when an aerobatic plane they were flying spun into a building during the Bandung Air Show in Jakharta, Indonesia.
Sept. 11: Pilot Matt Jackson was uninjured when his Hawker Sea Fury’s landing gear collapsed as he made an emergency landing and veered off the runway at the 2012 National Championship Air Races and Air Show in Reno, Nevada.
Sept. 7: Pilot Bob Odegaard was killed when his Goodyear F2G “Super” Corsair 2G-1 Corsair crashed during practice for the Wings & Wheels Airshow in Valley City, North Dakota.